Epistemologies of Sight and Touch in American Literature
This session welcomes papers that explore the nature of sight and touch as sources of knowledge in American literature. Papers analyzing the use of touch as a means of resolving doubts about visual knowledge or the different implications of gathering knowledge through sight as opposed to touch are particularly encouraged.
This session will focus on American works that explore the range and limitations of knowledge gained by sight in contrast to the knowledge gained through tactile contact. Ellen Spolsky notes in Satisfying Skepticism that individuals seek to overcome gaps in existing knowledge by incorporating the information gained through other senses, adding sight to hearsay and touch to visual knowledge when sight does not satisfy existing doubts. While multiple forms of sense input may potentially bridge the gaps in knowledge, these differing forms of knowledge are also profoundly different and may themselves create different, conflicting forms of knowledge. As Lisa Ann Robertson explains in “‘Universal Thump’: The Redemptive Epistemology of Touch in Moby-Dick,” Ishmael’s knowledge gained through sight causes him to analyze and dissect Queequeg’s cultural otherness as opposed to the knowledge he gains through physical contact with Queequeg that enables him to embrace Queequeg’s culture. Because different forms of sense input can offer differing knowledges, this panel would welcome any essays that explore the knowledge gained through sight and touch individually as well as projects on the discrepancies or doubts that arise when the knowledge gained through touch is incompatible with preexisting knowledge gained through sight.
This panel is part of the 115th annual Pacific Ancient and Modern Language (PAMLA) conference which will be held in Honolulu, Hawaii from Friday, November 10th until Sunday, November 12th. To submit a proposal for this session, please go to https://www.pamla.org/2017/topics/epistemologies-sight-and-touch-america.... Once you have created an account you will be able to use the online submission system to submit a proposal.